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AUC Creates Independent, Expert Committee to Assist in Improving Efficiency of Rates Proceedings, AUC Bulletin 2020-17

Link to Bulletin Summarized

Bulletin – Rates – Expert Committee

In this Bulletin, the AUC summarized its plans to continue discussions with stakeholders about reducing regulatory burden and lag and provided an update on initiatives underway or planned to pursue further improvements.

The AUC noted that these efforts were the subject of three stakeholder roundtables last fall and two related bulletins issued by the AUC, Bulletin 2019-18 and Bulletin 2020-02.

Following the first roundtable on October 4, 2019, the AUC immediately initiated a number of measures intended to bring more efficiency into its adjudicative process, primarily in connection with rate and facility applications. The AUC acknowledged that not all of the initiatives had yet met their goals, but that the AUC is genuinely committed to introducing more innovation to improve the timelines in its decision-making process.

The AUC noted that in November 2019, it published its strategic plan in which it committed to publishing an annual report card setting out, among other things, what has been done and plans to further remove unnecessary regulatory burden. As part of that report card, the AUC intended to ask the companies the AUC regulates and other stakeholders for their views on whether the AUC’s burden reduction efforts are succeeding. The AUC proposed to solicit those views through an industry impact assessment.

The AUC stated that, towards this goal, the AUC published Bulletin 2020-02 on January 17, 2020. For reasons explained in that Bulletin, the industry impact assessment was to focus on the AUC’s non-adjudicative regulatory functions. However, the overwhelming response from participants centred on the AUC’s adjudicative process related to rate applications.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AUC indicated it would be delaying the formal industry impact assessment for one year. However, given the views expressed in response to Bulletin 2020-02, the AUC stated it has decided to focus its attention on improving the effectiveness and timeliness of the processes and procedures used in rates proceedings in its ongoing discussions.

The AUC indicated it would establish a technical advisory working group (“Working Group”) of five or six people comprised of representatives from the regulated utilities and intervener groups. The Working Group and the AUC will identify issues and propose solutions and report back to a wider audience and senior representatives of stakeholders.

The AUC also indicated it had established an independent AUC Procedures and Processes Review Committee (the “Committee”). The Committee members have deep regulatory experience and include C. Kemm Yates, QC, noted regulatory counsel; David J. Mullan, Queen’s University professor emeritus in administrative law; and Rowland J. Harrison, QC, a former long-serving member of the National Energy Board (now the Canada Energy Regulator).

The AUC advised that the Committee will review the AUC’s rate application adjudicative processes and procedures and make recommendations to AUC Chair Mark Kolesar on how process and procedure steps can be made more efficient or eliminated altogether. The AUC noted that stakeholders could use the AUC’s Engage consultation tool to provide written submissions directly to the Committee by May 22, 2020

The AUC indicated that the Committee’s recommendations would inform discussion with Working Group referenced above in identifying improvements that can be implemented to reduce regulatory burden and streamline the process for rates proceedings.

The AUC indicated that the Committee has full discretion to determine its processes, and would use its best efforts to provide a written report to the chairman by June 15, 2020.

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